The takeover robbery of a swank Embarcadero brasserie early Wednesday morning is the latest eatery to be targeted in the past month, and restaurateurs are being warned to take steps to keep a robbery from turning fatal.
The latest incident occurred about 12:15 a.m. at Chaya Brasserie, located at 132 The Embarcadero, according to police Sgt. Wilfred Williams. Seven suspects managed to get inside the restaurant two hours after it closed, and attacked and tied up two employees before making off with cash.
No patrons were inside the restaurant, but the male suspects, armed with knives, were able to gain access, Williams said. Two male employees — a restaurant manager and a janitor — were punched and kicked, then tied up while money was taken from a cash register.
Both victims had to be hospitalized but are expected to survive. Police are still searching for the perpetrators. A spokesman for Chaya said the restaurant was declining to comment, only saying it was concerned for its employees and their safety.
Police and the restaurant would not say how the suspects entered the establishment.
Last week, masked men armed with guns robbed another San Francisco restaurant, Chez Maman in Potrero Hill. Police don’t believe that case is related to Wednesday’s robbery, Williams said.
On Feb. 10, three men robbed a cashier and two patrons at gunpoint at an International House of Pancakes in the Marina district. The robbery occurred about 9 p.m. at the Lombard Street restaurant.
The spate of robberies was enough for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association to put together a newsletter reminding restaurateurs of how to handle a robbery. Executive Director Kevin Westlye said the most important thing is to train employees not to be a hero.
“The goal is to have these incidents not escalate and end up in a homicide,” Westlye said.
Also, restaurants should look into silent alarms and surveillance equipment. While capturing the crooks on film may not lead to their capture right away, the footage can always be used for prosecutions if the suspects are found.
As for why robbers would choose to hit restaurants, Westlye said it wasn’t the most lucrative idea.
“The interesting thing is that most restaurants don’t have much money in the till,” Westlye said. “Some restaurants are up to 95 percent credit card sales.”